ABOUT THIS CASE
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According to New Jersey Law, upon entering into a Lease, the tenant’s promise to pay rent and the Landlord’s warranty of habitability are dependent. In Berzito v. Gambino, 63 N.J. 460, the Court held that a tenant claiming that the Landlord did not maintain the property in a habitable condition may initiate an action to recover all or part of the deposit paid when the Lease was finalized, or all of the rent paid. If the Court finds that the Landlord did not maintain the property in a habitable condition, the tenant will be charged only with the reasonable rental value of the property in its imperfect condition during the tenancy.
A large hole was present in the defendant’s kitchen sink. Through this hole, mice repeatedly entered the defendant’s apartment. On one occasion, the defendant found a mouse laying in a cup inside her cupboard. Defendant has repeatedly notified Plaintiff of the mice infestation, yet no remedy was provided. The property had other issues, including but not limited to mold in the bathroom and walls, flooding, deteriorating pipes, and rodent infestation.
In Berzito v. Gambino, 63 N.J. 460 (1973) the New Jersey Supreme Court listed out several factors to help a court determine whether a condition rises to a breach of habitability, which include: The length of time it persisted, its effect upon safety and sanitation, was the tenant in any way responsible, and has there been a violation of any applicable housing code or building or sanitary regulations. In the present case, a constant leakage of interior ceilings and walls which reflect the existence of mold and inferior interior structure of the building affect the safety and sanitation of the building. The defendant was forced to endure the constant fear of leakage and potential mold inhalation in her apartment for the length of time these conditions persisted, which was the entire duration of the lease.